How Hajj volunteers help pilgrims realize their lifelong dream

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A young scout helps a pilgrim at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah. (Twitter)
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Young Saudi scouts go familiarize themselves with their designated work area in Makkah. (SPA)
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Volunteer first aiders assist an aging pilgrim in Makkah. (SPA)
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A volunteer serves water to an infirm pilgrim. (SPA)
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A Saudi volunteer serves pilgrims with tea. (SPA)
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Boy Scouts take a sick pilgrim to a field hospital. (SPA)
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A scout gives directions to a pilgrim. (SPA)
Updated 16 August 2018
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How Hajj volunteers help pilgrims realize their lifelong dream

  • Volunteers are being encouraged to join the program Kun Awnan, or “Be Helpful,” to serve pilgrims
  • The program assigns volunteers to different locations based on their skills, experience and, in some cases, their place of residence

JEDDAH: Every year, Saudis — many of them young people — gather from all over the Kingdom to help their Muslim brothers and sisters fulfill their lifetime dream of visiting Makkah to perform Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam.

With the support and the supervision of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, volunteers participate in all different kind of activities to ensure pilgrims’ comfort, receiving them with hospitality and generosity at the country’s ports.

All governmental and private bodies, including Scouts, join self-motivated volunteers to provide services such as traffic control, health care, guidance and support to various public sector agencies participating in the massive pilgrimage operation.

In 2017, the ministry approved the launch of the volunteering program Kun Awnan, or “Be Helpful,” to serve pilgrims. 

“This program is in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to rally one million volunteers per year,” Hani Abu Alsaud, the program’s CEO, told Arab News.

Through this program, the ministry aims to promote a culture of volunteering, while providing young people with a chance to use their expertise and skills to assist pilgrims while doing everything they can to make the experience of God’s guests smoother and more secure.

The program assigns volunteers to different locations based on their skills, experience and, in some cases, their place of residence. 

Volunteering points or camps include the holy mosques of both Makkah and Madinah, King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah and the holy sites in Makkah.

“Last year, we received more than 3,000 volunteering applications through our newly launched website and we could accept only 12 percent of the total applicants,” Abu Alsaud said.

“Most of our volunteers are college and university students from all over the country ... (who) come to participate in the pride of serving God’s guests, and every one of them will receive a certificate of participation,” he said.

Kun Awnan activities include receiving pilgrims at airports, providing translations in a wide range of languages, doing all possible to make the Hajj experience go smoothly, as well as guiding activities and ceremonies after the season is over.

Scout camp activities were also launched to serve pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season under the Saudi Arabian Scouts Association. 

More than 4,500 Saudi Scouts and Guides were deployed in the public service camps for pilgrims in Makkah and its holy sites to assist pilgrims in cooperation with the ministry.

Zaiad Qadeer, director of the scout activities at the department of education in Makkah, said: “Scouts come from several cities across Saudi Arabia and are trained to speak multiple languages. This comes as a big help for pilgrims who arrive from all over the world. 

“Our main role would be assisting pilgrims who might lose their way around the holy sites in Makkah during the Hajj performance.”

As part of their efforts to provide the best possible services, six scout camps have been established in Makkah and its holy sites. 

“Scouts have been active members of the volunteering activities for years, deployed in almost all locations and working side by side with other teams and agencies to provide assistance to pilgrims and receive them with hospitality and generosity,” Qadeer explained. 

“We also help the Ministry of Health to treat sick pilgrims, complementing a number of voluntary humanitarian services for pilgrims.”

The General Directorate of Civil Defense plays a major role in volunteer work in the Kingdom. 

Operations General Hamoud bin Suleiman Al-Faraj told local media that the civil defense hoped to increase volunteer work under its umbrella, and had witnessed a large increase in the number of volunteers participating in the Hajj within a year — 1,485 volunteers this year compared with 816 volunteers in 2017.


Al-Jubeir: Saudi-led coalition ‘working with UN to end Yemen conflict’

The Houthis should engage in the political process and respond to the will of the international community to end the war and end the coup against the legitimate government, said Saudi Arabia's foreign minister. (AFP)
Updated 16 November 2018
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Al-Jubeir: Saudi-led coalition ‘working with UN to end Yemen conflict’

  • Since day one, we said that the solution… is a political solution, says Saudi FM
  • Al-Jubeir: Saudi Arabia is the largest provider of humanitarian aid to Yemen, providing more than $13 billion since the start of the conflict

RIYADH: The Saudi-led coalition is working with UN envoy Martin Griffith to reach a political solution to the conflict in Yemen based on UN Security Council resolution 2216, the Gulf Initiative and the outcomes of Yemeni national dialogue, the Saudi foreign minister said on Thursday. 

“Since day one, we said that the solution… is a political solution, and the solution should lead to the restoration of legitimacy in Yemen,” said Adel Al-Jubeir.

“We support a peaceful solution in Yemen. We support the efforts of the UN envoy for the Yemeni cause,” he added.

“We are committed to providing all humanitarian support to our brothers there. We are also working on the post-war reconstruction of Yemen.” The Kingdom supports the envoy’s efforts to hold negotiations at the end of November, added Al-Jubeir.

Saudi Arabia is the largest provider of humanitarian aid to Yemen, providing more than $13 billion since the start of the conflict, he said.

In contrast, Houthi militias are imposing restrictions on Yemeni cities and villages, leading to starvation, he added. 

They are also seizing humanitarian aid and preventing Yemenis from getting cholera vaccinations, Al-Jubeir said. 

The Houthis fire ballistic missiles indiscriminately at Saudi Arabia, use children as fighters and plant mines across Yemen, he added. 

The Houthis should engage in the political process and respond to the will of the international community to end the war and end the coup against the legitimate government, he said.

Saudi Arabia did not want the conflict in Yemen; it was imposed on the Kingdom, Al-Jubeir added. 

Saudi Arabia worked with other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states to develop the Gulf Initiative. 

This led to a transition from former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to the internationally recognized government headed by current President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Kingdom also worked to develop Yemeni national dialogue that led to a Yemeni vision regarding the country’s future.

A new Yemeni constitution was about to be drafted when the Houthis seized much of the country, including the capital. 

Yemen’s legitimate government requested support, and the Saudi-led coalition responded under Article 51 of the UN Charter.